The women's lacrosse program with the most NCAA Division II championships is one step closer to adding a seventh title to its banner at Motamed Field. The next one would just be a little different from last year's.
With a new coach and an altered offensive approach, defending national champion Adelphi beat No. 4 Stonehill, 10-6, at home Saturday in a Division II quarterfinal. A semifinal date with No. 2 Le Moyne awaits the top-seeded Panthers (19-1) on Saturday in Salem, Virginia.
Pat McCabe, an Elmont alum and National Hall of Fame defenseman, replaced Rob Grella as Adelphi's coach this season and implemented an offense predicated on sharing the ball. At 16.05 goals per game, the offense hasn't been as prolific as it was a year ago, when the Panthers scored 17.32 per game. But Adelphi has assists on 52.6 percent of its goals, by far the highest rate in this senior class' time with the program, according to the school's statistical archives.
The Panthers had six assists against Stonehill. Seven players scored, with Alexa Froccaro, Jacqueline Jahelka and Emily Keesling each netting two goals.
"We're so much more of a team," said Port Washington's Froccaro, who had three assists. "We owe a lot of that to Pat because he's the one who has pushed us to use everybody and not just depend on one or two people."
Given the team's success last year -- 22-0 and a championship -- it wasn't easy for McCabe to implement a new system.
"You get kids who are comfortable and it's very hard to come in after winning a championship and say, OK, I want you do this differently," McCabe said. "I wouldn't say there was resistance, but there was uncertainty about what was expected."
The Panthers assisted on just 11 of 30 goals over their first two games of the season. Then came a 19-4 win over Philadelphia University, in which Adelphi had 16 assists. A 17-assist output in a 24-4 win over Southern Connecticut followed.
"Once it starts to become effective, it becomes contagious," McCabe said. "I think that's worked well for us this season."So far. There are still two more roadblocks in Adelphi's path to its ultimate goal.
"To win a championship would prove that we still have it and we still have a great coach and we still have great players," Froccaro said. "That would be a nice thing to end the season with."